Tonight I saw Batman Begins (2005) and in a series of posts I plan to post the reactions of a couple of my more DC loving friends as well.
Directing-wise this movie seems to be the first in Chrisopher Nolan's run of films that truly give the Christopher Nolan feel of an epic story buried in stylization that has allowed him to be one of the few directors now that can market a film off his name. He made Following, Momento, and Insomnia before this film and as well written as those movies were (although I have yet to see Following) the two of those movies I have seen felt confined to their settings. Batman Begins starts Nolan's run of huge world building and shows the seeds of future films he wants to make. Batman learns about misdirection in ways that are reminiscent of scenes from The Prestige and the car chase scenes are impressive but have a feeling that he was missing something on the tip of his tongue. That taste he couldnt' quite pull was the introduction of using IMAX on many of the action scenes, especially the Dark Knight chase scenes that add a cleanliness and realness to his films.
I love this origin story for Batman where we see all the most iconic parts of his parents dying and expands on his trip abroad after not killing their killer. I had a small book in comic form, not sure if it could really be called a graphic novel because it seemed more aimed for my age range of elementary school or early middle school and seemed as though it was a summarization of different depictions of the origin, that told Batman's story. In the book it just had about a page that mentioned Wayne learned detective and martial arts skills on a trip to asia and didn't expand on it much. For me, this was very cool to see in the movie and I like how Wayne is dropped into a completely different world than Gotham City. I love seeing this depiction of Scarecrow and I think I originally wasn't as high on this movie as I might be from this viewing a decade later because I thought he should have been a bigger part of the movie.
This movie fits better in the series than The Dark Knight Rises, I think, and The Dark Knight is the crown jewel. I may feel different after watching the other two again. I can kind of tell that I will appreciate the sets, or lack of sets, in the later two films more than the shots in Begins where the buildings do not have any sense of realism.
These films changed my view of Batman. I used to not like Batman nearly as much as Marvel characters but dropping him into a more real environment than the cartoonish TV series or the films from the '80's and 90's that never felt right to me. I always had trouble identifying with Batman and Superman compared to the humor of Spider-man. I think I also related Spider-man because he's a little lean in his physique and I always related to that being a svelt guy myself compared to mass of muscles of Bruce Wayne and Superman. I learned more of Batman from the Frank Miller book from the '80's and the follow up in the 2000's. The follow up was a bit of a mess that was a disaster to follow and felt more like a vehicle to say "oh look at this weird character for one or two panels." The book from the '80's was much more of a story of Batman that I enjoyed in its storytelling but Bruce Wayne... well, all of the characters had a scuzzy feeling to them. A lot of that is because Frank Miller is just a scuzzy feeling person so the bleekness of the characters is inherant to him. In contrast, Christopher Nolan gives the feeling that you should applaud the movie when it starts and you should applaud the characters when they come on screen. He washes the previous missmanagement of the character from other TV and movies and the scuzziness from Frank Miller.